India might not have separate cycling tracks like in Paris or London, but that has never deterred the Indian from using this eco-friendly means of transport to go from one place to another, to use for chit-chats in the locality, to romance, to use as a serious means of transport for business and to tour the world. India has a demand of 10 million cycles every year, and the cycle usage is estimated at 90 people per thousand. This is the second year we are celebrating World Bicycle Day advocated by the United Nations to promote the environmental and health benefits of cycling. Cycling in India is about convenience but cycling as a exercise is also extremely beneficial.
Car usage might have increased many folds in our country and there might be an effective public transport system in place, but the cycle continues to be a very important part of the social fabric in India. From a child owning a cycle for just the pleasure of pedalling to a cycle being a man’s life support, the cycle keeps forging new relationships in India.
We tell you 6 ways in which cycling in India is indelibly connected to relationship building.
Romance and the cycle
How many times have you seen the Indian hero “double carrying” the shy Indian heroine on his cycle all the time singing a romantic song? This scene is considered one of the most romantic scenes in Indian cinema even in the age of multi-crore budgets and Ferrari-owning heroes.
Films like Barfi, Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar or Jab We Met have cashed in on the cycle for romance. And who can forget those double cycles of Shaan?
Amitabh’s cycling scene in Piku, where he liberates himself from his obsessive behavior, and Salman’s entry in Kick on a cycle are also unforgettable scenes of Indian films. Cycling in India acquires new dimensions in these films and also focuses on cycling as an exercise.
Bicycles for empowerment of women
The cycle has gone a long way to empower women in India giving them an opportunity to avail education. Cycles have changed the lives of women in rural India. Earlier parents were scared about the safety of their girls and did not allow them to travel 6-7 kilometres to distant schools. Thanks to the initiative of various NGOs cycles have been distributed to girls all over India, that has brought down the early marriage rate and they have been able to avail secondary education. Cycling in India is bringing social change.
Long distances, stalkers and eve teasers waiting around the corner, do not not bother rural Indian women anymore. They now have pedal power.
The newspaperwala, doodhwala, dabbawala, all come on the cycle
Life without the newspaperwala or the doodhwala is unimaginable to the average Indian. And they in turn cannot imagine life without their cycles. What would thousands of people in Mumbai do if the famed network of dabbawalas did not use their cycles? Recently the dabbawalas were handed over e-cycles by different organizations to make their life easier. The cost of an electric cycle is about Rs 35,000 but it does save a dabbawala a lot of physical effort and time. The cycles have been fitted with carriers for 40 tiffin boxes. The friendly Indian neighbourhood grocer is also using the cycle for home delivery, a fast catching concept in Indian cities.
Bicycle clubs promote cycling in India
There has been a concerted effort from different organizations in Indian cities to bring back the joy of cycling in people’s lives. Cities like Mumbai and Bangalore have a number or cycling organizations which foster events and rallies involving cyclists. Mumbai plans to become the cycling capital of the country soon and efforts are on in that direction.
It’s a great way to bond and hang out apart from endorsing a mode of transport which is eco-friendly and also has health benefits.
Sakshi Lulla, a college student in Mumbai said, “I have been using the cycle to go to college and to my tuition classes.
On holidays you will find me hanging out with my cycle gang. I have found great friends after I joined a cycling club and I really look forward to my Sunday morning rides with them.”
Actors like Salman Khan, who is often seen cycling down Mumbai roads on his bicycle worth Rs 2 lakhs, have been promoting cycling through his Being Human Foundation. Being Human e-cycles are also quite popular.
Cycling around India and the world
You will find plenty of young people in India achieving various feats on the cycle.
People like VT Vignesh Kumar entered the Guinness Book of world records for cycling without using hands for 122 kilometres and 1200 members of Hubbali Bicycle Club in South India entered the Guinness Book in January this year for longest group cycle ride. Twenty-year-old Vedangi Kulkarni went around 15 countries and 29,000 kilometres in 159 days in January this year to become the fastest and youngest Asian to achieve such a record.
Mohit Kapoor has been from Kashmir to Kanyakumari and has travelled to Ladakh too. In an interview to Better India he said, “When I entered Delhi there were around 100 pedal pushers from the cycling community, who had assembled to cheer me on. There, my jersey pocket became unexpectedly heavy – someone had slipped in an envelope containing Rs 3,000 with a note that simply read: ‘Happy Journey!’ My eyes were filled with tears; I couldn’t even thank the well-wisher who dropped it in my pocket as I did not know who he/she was.”
This sums up the power of pedalling in building relationships.
6. Cycling in India through nature trails
Apart from cycling as an exercise, as an adventure, cycling in India is also about exploring magnificent routes through nature trails. Coorg, Yalagiri and Kolli Hills are some of the most popular cycling destinations in India. These can be family cycling holidays where you take your children through totally safe cycling trails that meander through greenery, through wooden bridges and by magnificent waterfalls. Cycling in India is becoming popular as a holiday option and it’s a great way to explore, relax and exercise too.